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Walking in Africa: Discover the Kingdom of Swaziland on foot

Posted on: Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Blog Category: Wildlife

Jane Livingstone, mountain walking expert, traveller, experienced blogger and co-owner of Mountain Walking Holidays, provides us with this fantastic blog all about taking a different approach to Swaziland.

For many, a holiday in Africa is a dream come true.

People travel the world over to experience luxury jungle lodges and the rumble of safari truck engines. But, why do what everyone else does?

Swaziland is small, beautiful and unique country, offering unique opportunities for the ultimate African adventure.

Forget everything you know about holidays in Africa, because in this blog we are going to delve into something a bit different. Enjoy safaris, customs, culture and everything else great about Africa, but from a totally new perspective.

We think you shouldn’t just visit Swaziland — you should walk across it.

Here’s why:

Encounter Wildlife in a Unique Way on a Swaziland Walking Safari

No matter how you do it, viewing the exotic wild animals of the African plains is an unforgettable experience. While most people choose to mount up in large Jeeps and storm across dirt tracks in search of grazing giants, walking offers an alternative — and we would argue better — experience.

You could find any number of beautiful, wild African animals in Swaziland; from the mighty elephant and swaying giraffe, to the gentle antelope and elegant zebra.

It starts with the thrill of the chase. You spot tracks, hear noises or see movement far off in the distance. You tentatively make your way over. Following the tracks; heading for the noise. You sneak in between trees, ducking behind bushes and treading so lightly you feel like Elmer Fudd.

And it’s worth the wait.

Standing on foot — watching on as these incredible wild and free creatures — lends a perspective unlike any other wildlife encounter. You’re there with them, in the heart of nature. It’s a wild, natural experience.

Mary Holland, a writer for CNTraveler, sums up the walking safari experience beautifully:

“The point of a walking safari isn’t to spot as much game as possible, but to experience nature in a more cognizant way...” and, back at camp “There’s no TV to distract me, no Internet or Instagram. And suddenly everything feels very raw and very real. This is why we go on walking safaris.”

Walking also offers a number of definable benefits beyond that of a more intense experience. On foot, you can reach places vehicles can’t, like dense woodlands and forests bursting with life. You also approach animals silently, unlike with the thunderous clap of a 4x4 engine — loud enough to spook even the bravest of animals

This isn’t to say you should never experience a vehicle driven safari — it offers its own advantages — but we just think you should experience both.

Immerse Yourself in African Life

Just as walking in Swaziland offers a new perspective for viewing wildlife, so too does it offer a new way of experiencing life and the culture of the Swazi people.

The culture of southern African nations, such as the exuberant, colourful and rich customs of the Swazi people, is something that attracts visitors from across the globe.

Home to unique lifestyles found only in this corner of the world, a trip to Swaziland is not complete without a journey to discover these communities.

Many resorts, companies and travel agents will offer cultural tours: days out designed to introduce you to the local way of life, meeting locals and sharing in their customs. The thing is, though, these are planned experiences, designed to make money.

Walking in Swaziland, however, offers you the real experience. On your travels through Swaziland, wandering the mountain paths, through the bush and rural villages, you’ll not only visit these communities, but rely on them.

You’ll stay in their accommodation, buy from local stores and really share in the life of the Swazi people. This is the true African cultural experience. For your trip, you aren’t just a visitor — you’re a part of the Swaziland community.

Support a Developing Economy

By visiting many of the smaller African nations like Swaziland, you support a developing economy. And by walking, you stretch that support just a little bit further.

When you visit a resort or hotel, just about everything is taken care for you. Trips are arranged, dinner is served. Your economic support is still valuable, but it is funnelled into a finite space. A Swaziland walking holiday offers the opportunity for something a little different.

As you explore a range of environments across the country, you have to rely on more than just one small section of the Swazi population.

Found in the mountains or out in the wilderness, most of the camps and lodges in rural areas are run by local communities or non-profits, and offer the perfect base for walking in Swaziland.

Operated by some of the poorest citizens of Swaziland, money spent here — on accommodation and food — is put right back into the community, building infrastructure like roads and hospitals.

Walking also introduces a more independent manner of travel, presenting you with the opportunity to directly support local workers, businesses and game reserves.

In our most recent trip with Mountain Walking Holidays, we hired local guides. Both had excellent knowledge of the area, matching or even beating anything you’d get from a private tour company, yet neither had full time or secure employment.

Supporting community tourism projects means you can spread the wealth. You bring economic stimulus to areas and communities many visitors never see.

Your dream holiday becomes something even more special, it impacts more that just you.

Take a Swaziland walking holiday with Mountain Walking Holidays and discover a different side to the African continent.

Original Blog by Jane Livingstone - Mountain Walking Holidays

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